We have had the most incredible garden treats from Azalea Inn and our tomato harvest has inspired our favorite (so far) WOW recipe: Tomato Jam. I picked the last of our cherry and yellow pear tomatoes to be turned into our infamous Tomato Jam. We plan to serve the Jam on Rosemary shortbread at next week’s wine and appetizer hour. As you can see from the impish faces of Kolin and Courtney, we love our tomatoes! I am not sure how many of the garden harvested tomatoes made it into the jam, but there was enough for two more canning jars of our oft-requested jam recipe (compliments of Bon Appetite, April 2010).
The recipe itself calls for 5 large tomatoes but we have a plethora of the cherry and tiny yellow pear tomatoes and found that they worked as well, if not better, with the two-tone color. We did not skin these tomatoes as the recipe calls for, instead squeezing the seeds out whole and tossing into the saucepan, no boiling first necessary.
2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 large)
2 cups granulated sugar
Generous pinch of salt
Generous pinch of ground cayenne pepper
2 or 3 grinds of black pepper
2 or 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, cut out the stem end of each tomato, then slice a shallow X in the bottom. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water until their skins loosen, about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let cool.
When cool enough to handle, slip off the tomato skins. Discard the water, but save the saucepan for cooking the jam. Halve the tomatoes crosswise and gently squeeze out the seeds and juice. Chop the tomatoes into 1/3-inch pieces.
Return the tomatoes to the saucepan; stir in the sugar, salt, and peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure that the mixture is cooking evenly but not burning, until most of the liquid has evaporated. If foam occasionally rises to the top, skim it off with a large spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice to taste.
Ladle the jam into sterilized jars. Cover tightly, let cool, and refrigerate. The jam will keep for at least 6 months refrigerated, though it has not lasted that long at the inn!
“Sufferin’ Succotash!” was the catch phrase of Sylvester the Cat, a Looney Tunes character from my childhood. Actually, he lisped “Thufferin Thuccotash” often in his quest to capture “Tweety Bird” of “I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat” fame. So what does that have to do with Azalea Inn and Gardens? Well, our Garden’s bounty is overflowing with cherry tomatoes, green peppers, yellow and purple bush beans, eggplant and okra right now and the garden pickings were the inspiration for our take on a Deep South favorite – Succotash.
Jake has always loved the okra and tomatoes served at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House and he cajoled me into doing “something” with all the tomatoes and the just perfect sized okra. He said he would take it any way I fixed it and I am partial to the combination of baby limas, corn, tomatoes and okra, so… why not add whatever the garden was offering up?
Throwing a few slices of bacon into the skillet to render, I set about chopping a medium onion and two cloves of garlic, seeded and chopped a small jalapeno, then ran down to the garden to pick okra, tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplant to throw into the mix. While the onion softened in the bacon rendering, I sliced the okra, chopped one green pepper and one tiny eggplant to add to the cornucopia of veggies to come and ran back down to the garden to finish off the crop of beans. Once the onions were softened and the garlic lightly browned, I threw in a bag of frozen corn (eh-gads, its okay!), and bag of frozen baby limas. Next came the cherry tomatoes, okra, green pepper and eggplant, threw in the bush beans snipped and cut in half and gently cooked the conconction for about 7 to 10 minutes. Taste tests indicated a need for salt and pepper and with a small chiffonade of basil sprinkled on top, we were ready to eat! Served along side a simply grilled rib-eye steak it was easy to get Jake to commit to another 9 years with me!
I grew up in a large family, so it was no surprise that I had leftovers – lots of leftovers. This morning I added a bit of raspberry wine vinegar to the succotash and with Jake’s tastebuds declaring it a winner have incorporated it into tonight’s appetizers which our guests will enjoy – served cold on chips – a Salsa Succotash.
Azalea Inn and Gardens takes the locavore route to all things served at the inn – join us this summer for a taste of home-grown cantaloupe and Galia melons, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes served a dozen ways and the refreshing courtyard pool with waterfall creating a perfect respite in the warmth of a Savannah summer. Book online or call us at 800-582-3823 today to reserve your spot at our “farm table” in historic Savannah, Georgia’s best bed and breakfast!
Where would you go for the Best Pizza in Savannah? You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of pizza. As a kid, when everyone else claimed their favorite food to be pizza, I talked of my love for…broccoli. I know. I’m a weirdo.
But Vinnie Van Go Go’s has made me a believer. Located conveniently in the heart of City Market, Vinnie’s is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Savannah. Whenever Kolin and I have visitors, we make it a point to let them experience the best pizza in town. If you couple this with some great beers on tap and the best people watching vantage points from the sidewalk tables… well you have a Saturday night made for socializing.
I always order the white pizza with pepperoni and banana peppers. Kol prefers the pesto pizza. Teresa (the “boss”) prefers lots of fresh veggies (spinach, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes) and can do without the meat, while Jake (Mr. Boss) likes his loaded with spicy Italian sausage garlic and extra cheese. But you honestly can’t go wrong, whatever you decide. Oh, before I forget, they also make delish Calzone stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, garlic, and herbs, served with a side of marinara sauce.
While the food is great, one of my favorite things about Vinnie’s is getting to see them prepare the pies. I sit in awe as they spin the dough; I could watch it for hours! Of course, there is a small side of me that wants to see the pie fall, flat, on the spinner’s upturn face.
Whether you order a whole pie or snag a single slice (which is so big you can share it with a friend), head to City Market, or have it delivered; just make sure to add Vinnie Van Go Go’s to your itinerary!
Distinctive bed and breakfast lodging for the April NOGS Tour of Hidden Gardens of Savannah Georgia is best savored at Azalea Inn and Gardens, also a select property on this year’s tour. We were honored with the invitation to be a part of the Garden Club of Savannah’s annual fund-raising event, and Jake, of course, was ecstatic! Despite the heavy freezes (and subsequent loss of vegetation) we have experienced this year, he barely blinked as he assured me that we would be ready by the scheduled dates, April 29 and 30, 2011. True to his meticulous nature, Jake has begun working on a map of the grounds marking the locations of the different flora and fauna so we can have identifying signs throughout making the tour of our gardens even more enlightening.
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